Our First Visit Trip Report
by 11/23/10 02:45 PM
What a wonderful introduction to the country of Belize!
Nancy & I just got back and couldn’t wait to view our photos of our first visit to one of the friendliest , most beautiful places we’ve ever been. No matter where we were, we were greeted with the widest smiles and helpful people who made our trip so memorable, we have already decided to make a return visit and stay longer, as 9 days just wasn’t enough.
We would like to thank the staff at Portofino for their wonderful hospitality and efforts to make our stay at their beautiful resort a true success. They seamlessly arranged all our excursions on the water and to the mainland which were incredible. We would especially like to thank Willy from Searious adventures for our trip to Bacalar Chico, this loop around A.C. was spectacular with Willy, an excellent guide with a humorous and thorough knowledge of the flora, fauna, and history of the entire area. He’s a pretty good cook and bartender to boot. We even got a close encounter with a manatee while in the canal between Mexico & Belize. Thank you Willy.
While most of our overall trip time was on, in, or under the water, we did make it to San Pedro several times and Caye Caulker once. No matter where we were, we were always surrounded by the wonderful smiles on the faces of the fortunate ones who call this paradise home. The food was delicious at the many restaurants we visited both in and out of town, there was always sounds of music , and the fragrances of fruit, flowers, exotic cooking, and salt air wafting around us.
With as much beauty as there was on A.C., our trip wouldn’t have been complete with out a visit to the mainland. We opted for the excursion to Barton Creek & Xunantanich, Wow!!! A brief tropic air flight from A.C. to a tiny airstrip on the coast of Belize City found us inside a nice van on the road to the Cayo district. Our guide Rudy, had a wealth of information at every corner and was able answer all our questions about this intriguing area. As we were heading up the bumpy dirt road to Barton Creek we fortunate enough to be able to give a lift to an Amish man making his way back to his farm in the jungle, he was very friendly, soft-spoken, and humble but still was outgoing in his attempts to answer our awkward questions about his life and family. We dropped him at his farm but not before we passed his father & brother-in-law on the treacherous road riding in a horse drawn buggy and passing young boys plowing the fields getting ready to plant the next crop and young girls weeding the vegetable garden, all by hand, it was magical.
Now comes Mike’s Place at the Barton Creek caves; we were greeted by “Mango” a resident 5 year old spider monkey who took a shine to Nancy, we had a difficult time separating the two, literally. At the edge of the creek there were roughly hewn stone steps that led us to the canoes our group would be paddling into the belly of this mysterious cave that seemed to go on forever and had new secrets around each bend. There were places where the stalactites were only inches over our heads, pottery and human remains of ancient Mayans on the ledges. I couldn’t help feeling similar to the first time I read Huckleberry Finn, I was a kid again, in the jungle, in a cave, on the water, in a canoe. Oh man, was I ever. I felt somewhat sad having seen the dim sunlight filtering through the shadows on our way back the narrow entrance of a once in a lifetime adventure.
Onward and upward to Xunantanich; back down that dusty road wo where the pavement began again we headed north till we reached a hand cranked ferry crossing the Mopan river leading to the gates of ancient archaeological site just briefly getting a glimpse of what was to come as we could just see the top of one of the temples rising above the canopy. A friendly ranger greeted and welcomed us to the incredible treasure in store for our now tightly knit group of six American explorers plus our native guide, Rudy. A steep incline led us to an awe inspiring view of the partially excavated plaza where I felt like I was stepping back into time and wondered if this place was a mirage. No, it’s magnificent, standing at the base of the towering monuments trying imagine the thousands of hands and feet of the brilliant peoples who lived and died here making this place truly a wonder of man’s achievements. Rudy was giving us all a narrative on the meaning and desires of each spectacle we gazed upon as ventured deeper into the heart and height of the 130’ tall main temple, I believe it was called the “Garden Maiden”. Just as we reached the top of the inspiring temple, after climbing though an enclosed stairwell, we were able to survey the scope of the entire plaza, the rain gods welcomed us with a torrential downpour. From here were could easily see Guatamala as it beckoned us to continue to venture on to Tikal. Alas, that would have to placed in the bucket list for another adventure as the rain was now getting to the point where descending from our perch would have to slow and cautious as our day of adventure was nearing a close and the wild ride back through rain swollen roads and traffic snarled intersections would commence.
I have selected just few of the photos Nancy & I will treasure for a lifetime, thank you Belize - we shall return.
Steve & Nancy